When a person experiences pain, the body’s automatic and protective reaction is to tense up and restrict movement of the painful area. This is a helpful reaction that serves to promote survival. However, this reaction of tensing up leads to chronically tense muscles that can actually become a major reason for the pain to continue. In addition, people with chronic pain problems often experience increased stress and anxiety, which, then adds to tension levels affecting muscles, joints and connective tissue.
Our nervous system is also more active under stress and can have increased sensitivity to pain. Because these physical signs of tension can greatly increase pain, tension reduction methods such as Biofeedback are highly successful in changing the tension/pain cycle, restoring balance to the body.
Biofeedback is an electronic, non-invasive method of monitoring the body’s functions in order to provide useful information regarding stress responses. By measuring either muscle tension, respiration, heart rate and hand temperature, the skilled practitioner at the Center For Integrative & Traditional Medicine is able to recognize physiological changes in the body and support the patient in reversing them over time before they result in pain and immobility. Patients have found that Biofeedback has also been found to be helpful in treating anxiety, high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, Raynaud’s disease and many other conditions.
When patients participate in the process of Biofeedback, they learn diaphragmatic breathing, i.e., deep breathing and relaxation techniques in addition to obtaining insight into their physiological state. Just by learning how your positioning at the computer or at your desk, for example, can be contributing to the discomfort you are feeling is a valuable component of the Biofeedback process.
Biofeedback treatments are completely painless and patients describe the experience as relaxing and enjoyable. The techniques learned during a session can be practiced at home, in the office or while exercising. When patients practice the techniques, it continues to reinforce positive behaviors that will support Biofeedback sessions. Over time, patients feel in greater control of their physiology, feel more relaxed and peaceful.